Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Rule of Law: Theoretical Perspectives

  • Guido PincioneEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_135-1

Introduction: Some Conceptual Issues

The term “rule of law” refers to a situation in which rulers and citizens are equally subject to the law and entitled to its protection. Many writers regard the rule of law as an ideal, and formulas such as “government subject to law” and “government bound by law” are sometimes used to describe a particularly valuable feature of that ideal. Joseph Raz observes that such formulas would be tautological, and so empty expressions of a political ideal, if we were to stipulate that no governmental action, as a matter of definition, can be against the law. Appeals to the rule of law as a genuine ideal make sense only if the definition of “governmental action” does not exclude the possibility of unlawful governmental actions (Raz 2009: 212–213). Raz argues that “[g]overnment by law and not by men is not a tautology if ‘law’ means general, open, and relatively stable law.” (Raz 2009: 213) Governmental actions would then conform to the rule of law just in...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tetsu Sakurai
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Intercultural StudiesKobe UniversityKobeJapan